Its been a while. No doubt about it.

This is the Eleventh studio album from Pretenders and I can honestly say I’ve not felt a real buzz off one of their records coming out since the second one came out way back in 1981 almost forty years ago! Gulp.  sure they’ve hit paydirt in the pop charts since but they’ve not really dished out a record bristling with top tunes, until now that is. Damn, On the second single off the album ‘The Buzz’ shes even managed to recreate the vibe of ‘Kid’ on that guitar break. It appears that the past might have been embraced and maybe explored in order to strip back those past forty years to create ‘Hate For Sale’ which seems an odd title because there seems to be an overwhelming “love” going on.

The other noticeable feature is a sparkling production that lets everything breathe where it needs to and the crunchy dirty bits are backstreet dirty and not polished into oblivion fake dirty.

Hyndes vocals are as good as they ever were sounding fresh and captivating and at times comforting.

In the first four tracks, you have everything that made the original line up such a great band. A roaring call to arms on the intro track and album title followed by the more pop-friendly ‘The Buzz’ Something different and maybe a little risky in ‘Lightning Man’ and the rock-solid handclap heavy ‘Turf Accountant Daddy’ then to close off side one the retro pop ballad of ‘You Can’t Hurt A Fool’ which might be the weakest on side one with its soul trappings but Hyndes vocal is exceptional and delivers a stunning performance that elevates the whole song which is anything but tokenistic.

 

It’s great to drop the needle onto side two and hear the power chords clash and strut on ‘I Don’t Know When To Stop’ enhanced with some great gob iron blowing and a bowery staggering solo. Then to bump straight into ‘Maybe Love Is In NYC’ which makes a great dive bar buddie maybe not as strong but great to hear those guitars being rinsed with passion and some attack.

Chrissie Hynde might well have found her Mojo and really delivered a great record.  there isn’t one weak track on offer and whilst side two might lack the variety that you have on the opening few songs they are immensely enjoyable like the punky hand jive of ‘Don’t Want To Be This Lonely’. To be fair the piano balladeering of the albums closer ‘Crying In Public’ had to be and the strings and big chords make it listenable without becoming lush or too polished and it retains the feel of the rest of the record and has grit and charm.

Pretenders have turned back the clock and knocked out one of 202s finest records without any shadow of a doubt.  It’s short, sharp and exactly the pick me up needed during this oddest of summers. Something new with an old feel that’s comforting and downright bloody entertaining. ‘Hate For Sale’? Yes please.

 

Buy ‘Hate For Sale’ Here

Facebook

Author: Dom Daley

 

The story of the RATBOYS goes back to the summer of 2008. In epic Def Lepard and Guns N Roses lengths of recording breaks, The Ratboys have taken their time between albums to let the first one breathe haha!

Truth is the band fell apart and it took them until 2017 for Vincenzo and Eric St John to reboot the RATBOYS. With little success at first until finally in early 2019 guitar slinger James and new drummer Reno entered the pictures.

Within a couple of weeks the sophomore album “Click” was recorded and, like the first album, it was mixed by the one and only Pierre Vervloesem. Proceedings get underway with their homage to the one and only Ramones with ‘Everybody Loves The Ramones’ which is a fair statement and using ever Ramoneclone trick in the book voila! a song is born. The retro crunch of ‘Swimming With The Sharks’ is more of the same to be fair with familiar Ramone like melodies its uptempo but with a mixture of Sweet glam thrown in for good measure which is the MO for the album I guess with various degrees of separation from the likes of The Heartbreakers and other sleazy Rock and Rollas thrown into the mix at various junctures.

 

‘Listen Closely To Your Heart’ has that johnny and Walter trade-off going on which is never a bad thing at all. The band change gears throughout the album with songs like ‘Summer School girl’ being more power pop and laid back it adds the classic power-pop jangle whilst ‘Stand Up And Fight’ is straight outta The Boys songbook with added attitude and a bit of a kick.

After a brief venture through Motor City territory, we end up at ‘The Golden Age Of Trash’ and one of the best tracks on the album as the band stray off the power-pop path and take a trip through the mid ’70s Mott like glam which makes for a really good tune.  They introduce a swirling keyboard to proceedings on penultimate track ‘Leave Me No Choice’.

Whilst it doesn’t break new ground its a really solid album blending all the components I love from power pop to punk rock to ’70s glam its great to hear bands like the Ratboys kick out the jams and I hope they continue to evolve and hope its not another decade or two before they follow this one up.

Facebook

Buy ‘Click’ Here / Rum Bar Records Bandcamp 

Author: Dom Daley

Is this Power Pop?

A question that is often all caps shouted across screens by keyboard warriors defending their record collection decisions.

Power Pop. A holy grail whose contents are loudly proclaimed obvious (depending who ya ask) and essential.  Apparently sacred (yet neverendingly argued) since the storied days of Peter Case losing his Nerves to then lace up his Plimsouls. Somehow important yet almost impossible to achieve… one wrong move, a drink too far, a chord eschewing a jangle and you’re “just rock n roll”.

Or so it seems…

The Speedways. The members languidly lean on the bars of darkened London pubs or float like spectres in corners of Some Weird Sin and Garageland gigs. Striped shirts and leather jackets. Dirty street-tamed Chucks and scuffed Thunders boots carry them from one late night heartache to another.

They are true believers who take their turn on stage with hearts outshining the Cheap Trick badges.

Heart.

How do you capture it? How do you?

This album is a stellar example of doing just that. It is the emotion, the essence of love (lost and yearned for) that makes special songs, damn the torpedoes and neat classifications.

This is their second full-length album and the growth since ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ is apparent right off the opening track. ‘This Ain’t A Radio Sound’ opens with a playful ‘80’s Cars ‘Heartbeat City’ keyboard that is somehow right at home alongside the dirty street jangle of Mauro Venegas’ guitars. Then Matthew Julian saunters in, his vocals accomplishing a feat in common with that of my favourite singers. It is instantly recognisable. Equal parts world-weary and up to the fight. Like how Phil Lynott would somehow whisper your thoughts back to you. At once like a friend and someone you wish you had the nerve to approach. A very rare and special dichotomy that gains trust from the listener. People will say you’re born with that. I can see here that you can earn it.

‘The Day I Call You Mine’ shakes off the skinny tie and gets tough. And sweet. The rhythm section of Kris Hood and Adrian Alfonso are like a modern day Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke of The Smiths. Taking the gorgeous songcraft and walking it home like schoolyard best friend bodyguards. In fact, every melody and arpeggiated chord on this long-player is kept safe in their scrappy hands.

“Daydreaming’ opens with razor-sharp back alley chords and a streetwise snarl that has me all of a sudden thinking, “Is this ROCK N ROLL???”

Speaking of that… ‘Your Brown Eyes Look So Blue’ comes dangerously close to sounding like a forgotten outtake from the soundtrack to “Grease”. High School dancing itself right to the edge of the parking lot of kitsch to puke, but teetering there and miraculously feeling much better, thank you! It was a close one boys, but then again, some imminent peril makes albums and nights out exciting.

The track order on this album has a great arch to it. The way it builds to a cinematic centrepiece starting from the dreamy fade into focus intro of ‘This Is About A Girl Who Loves The Sun’. It builds wonderfully into widescreen guitar pop. The song takes you off the dusty and noisy summer city streets and into the cinema to catch your breath and “to stop taking it out on yourself” as Matthew reminds you in the lyrics.

The exuberance of ‘Number Seven’ kicks the cinema doors wide open and the sunlight comes streaming through. We’re in The Speedways’ neighbourhood now, and there’s a place they know that’s perfect for an afternoon drink. Matthew puts his arm around you on the walk and lets ya know that you’ll get by… it doesn’t matter who believes you.

Another standout track is the band next door sound of ‘Empty Pages’. Effortlessly cool and just the right riff for just the right lyrics (“On Halloween I couldn’t hide”… who hasn’t felt that way? Vulnerable and surrounded by Pound Shop devils and clowns) The song is the sound of hanging out. Pure and simple.

The whole set does an excellent job of establishing a recognisable sound while crossing gang lines into territories that may feel like defection. The early Petty and almost ‘50s stomp intro of ‘Had Enough This Time’ giving way to a sun shower of cascading guitar shimmer and a riff that steps right off a beach to join in? Really? It works. Really well.

The album closer, the rather magnificently titled ‘In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young’, is a perfect bookend. A pocket symphony of guitars that shine like the afternoon sun reflected off a Camaro’s dashboard. Its harmonies sonically answer Julian’s proclamation, “I thought I was the only one to feel this way, until…” with the easy embrace of a close pal.

No. You’re not the only one who does, Matthew. You just have a timeless way of expressing it. Your band is right there with you bringing these songs into brilliant focus as well.

Pretty happy that a band like this exists, making albums to this calibre.

It sounds awfully good with a cold one or a double too!

OH! Power Pop?

I ain’t getting’ into that! Whaddya think, I’m crazy?

 

Buy Beluga Records Here / Speedways Bandcamp Vinyl Here

Author: Rich Ragany

Feels a bit weird yet fitting that I’m reviewing the Doojimans debut record (of sorts) second after reviewing their second release first.  Cofused? You will be but I doubt Doojiman and the gang would want it any other way.

Doojiman and his side kick Woogie Wombach grabbed a few space cadets and space cakes before heading into outter space to see if they could pull together something from the influences they had here on earth like The Ramones, MC5 and The Stooges but they weren’t just going to ape their idols they were going to throw their own shapes into the bowl and mix a fucked up salad all by themselves

With a bunch of EP’s, singles and two full-length albums under their belts (including ‘Electric Boogaloo’, released in January of this year by Beluga Records), Heavy Medication is bringing Stockholm’s D&TE’s debut digital-only e.p. from 2014 to vinyl for the first time and rockin up at Heavy Medications Door seems just about right and par for the course, to be honest.

From its opening chords, the “Watch Out! Look Out!” EP is everything as good as the ‘Electric Bugaloo’ album make no mistake about that. Its not just the debut EP though to be fair it also has the added bonus of four extra tracks (including a Nobunny cover) to make this another album they will certainly have orbiting around the end of the year best albums list. From the fuzzed-up organ heaving of opener ‘Woogie Wombach’ this record just motors. ‘(I Wanna Go) Take Me Away’ is a throbbing mass of Ramones angst being whipped by a Quo like twelve-bar chug.

They fly the Hives flag on ‘Doojiwoman’ and that filthy bass on ‘I Love It When You Hate Me’ would have been terrifying in the swinging ’60s where it was surely born.  It’s like the Kinks on bad Acid but they’ve still got their mojo baby.

It’s not all crash bang wallop though kids, of course, it’s not as the band tackle the Nobunny tune ‘Apple Tree’ with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and some tasteful percussion and shimmering electric to puncture the chorus. but before things are brought to a close they venture off through late seventies NYC where they tune their antenna to something Blondie used to ply through the airwaves.  Basically another top tune amongst an album full of top tunes but I expected nothing less.  Sign me up scotty for the next one I can’t get enough of these crazy cats.  Signing off starlog 2020 scribe Daley signing out!  Buy it.

Buy ‘Watch Out Look Out’ Here or from Beluga Records outta Sweden Here

Facebook

Author: Dom Daley

Man, I always have a soft spot for Californian pop/punk, especially when it’s a young band coming on like the 90’s never ended. And that’s where I introduce you to The Bombpops. Founded in 2007 by dual singer/guitarists Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam, the 4 piece band take the title of their sophomore album ‘Death In Venice Beach’ from Thomas Mann’s celebrated novella about the price of artistic life.

The follow up to 2017’s ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ it sees the band explore dark themes of alcohol addiction, health problems, toxic relationships and suicide all wrapped up in high energy punk pop.

 

But the dark lyrical themes are certainly not the first thing that hits you about The Bombpops. The SoCal sound that inspires the band is prevalent throughout, you could say ‘Death In Venice Beach’ sounds like the lost 90’s soundtrack you need to fill the hole between ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Josie and the Pussycats’.

Take latest single ‘Double Arrows Down’. Lyrically inspired by Poli Van Dam’s diabetes seizure and subsequent dice with death, it’s actually a euphoric blast of dual vocal melody and overdriven guitars, with a sugar-buzz pop melody that will inject sunshine into anyone’s dreary day. Sweet vocal melodies The Dollyrots would die for and the sort of catchy choruses Letters To Cleo perfected in their prime.

And so it continues for 30 minutes or so. 12 short, sharp, shocks of punk pop that do not overstay their welcome. Songs that would’ve bombarded the airwaves back in the day and singles that would’ve been vying for attention with the likes of Bowling For Soup and Sum 41 on your TV screens.

 

‘Dearly Departed’ name-checks doomed celebrity couples over high energy pop/punk. Sid & Nancy rub shoulders with JFK & Monroe as Jen & Poli deliver pitch perfect vocal harmonies and dirty guitars in unison. A tight rhythm section and a crisp production courtesy of (among others) NOFX’s Fat Mike only adds to the high quality.

With the likes of ‘Sad To Me’ and ‘Zero Remorse’ they have a knack of delivering a verse that create momentum and builds to what you just know is going to be an anthemic, killer chorus that will stay in your brain long after the song has ended. The girls’ vocals work well together and it is that, along with the top notch songwriting, which lifts this album high above the current competition.

The bouncy bass intro and the offset guitar riff in ‘Notre Dame’ will bring to mind The Offspring, ‘In The Doghouse’ comes on like The Creepshow at their most commercial and the raw tale of isolation and heartbreak that is ’13 Stories Down’ sounds like a female-fronted NOFX. Elsewhere you’ll swear you’ve heard the likes of ‘Radio Silence’ and ‘House On Fire’ before. And that my friends, is the knack of a catchy melody put to very good use.

 

There are lots of comparisons that can be made to lots of cool bands when listening to ‘Death In Venice Beach’ and that’s not a bad thing. The Bombpops wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and have their own imitable style and their own way of exorcising their own personal demons with a set of strong, bouncy tunes.

To be honest, you could imagine any of the 12 songs on offer to be featured on MTV, with the band playing next to a swimming pool or a frat house in California, surrounded by teens with nothing more on their mind than pulling the hottest cheerleader and downing a four pack. And while in these troubled times those sort of antics may seem as distant a memory as the 90’s actually are, it’s still the great escape some of us need right now.

Buy ‘Death In Venice Beach’ Here

Facebook

Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

The not so difficult fourth album is upon us it would seem. He might have been in this game for several decades but as a solo artist, Duncan is a mere pup, a fresh-faced newbie of sorts (he’s still playing the introducing stages). With a line-up that’s been in situ for some time – well, more time than any other line up he’s assembled since going his own way and on ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ they’ve really spread their collective wings and are soaring, trust me on this.

My criticism (not really a criticism I love this guys music) of previous efforts was that (as great as they were) they didn’t really reflect the band live and how bloody good they are and how much punch they give to the most excellent melodies and tunes they were playing.  Well, pop pickers that has been put to bed as ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ has plenty of grunt under the hood and Rock out with the big boys on record as they do live. Result then?  Hell Yeah!

‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ offers up fourteen slices of powerpoppin’ Rock and Roll of all shades and sounds and has pushed Duncan and his songwriting talents to the max and on multiple plays its paid dividends each and every time. It’s reflective, humorous and on the odd occasion, it’s on political point and always insightful, damn educational even who’d have thought it? Rock and Roll teaching the masses. Above all I think Duncan has penned his best record since taking the plunge and with no better example than the opener ‘Future Ex Wife’ as it comes roaring out of the traps.

Some of the record has been road-tested live and worked, I know that because I’ve seen and heard ’em played and it looks and sounds like a great choice to do that. theres always a heap of charm with Duncan’s solo records either with wicked melodies or vocal arrangments and harmonies pretty much all over the place.

I particularly like that Duncan has sat on the fence with ‘Motherfucker’ and can’t wait for his next political observation,  Hell yeah! Brother. The flow of the record is great as you get picked up and a lyric jumps out and makes you smile only to have your thought taken somewhere else due to a killer hook or vocal arrangement, thrown together it certainly wasn’t and if it was..well, the guys clearly a genius. To make it a trio of opening cuts ‘Welcome To My World’ is a slice of power pop where the guitars weave towards the chorus where you get the layered vocals cap off another top tune.

He still throws a curveball and a change of pace. The hypnotic ‘Tea & Sympathy’ has a larger slice of pop than the previous songs as it heads down a new wave maybe XTC sort of avenue. ‘To Live Or Live Not’ is classic Reid  But wait, ‘The Grim Reaper’ sounds like ’70s New York pop or Supertramp but it doesn’t sound out of place with all its trumpet tooting grandeur.

The first time I heard ‘For All We Know’ it was instantly imprinted on my brain and its still a winner on record capturing the backstory of the song perfectly. If you were to hear it being told this is how it would sound in your head. A top tune to end side one. Side two begins with the dreamy qualities of ‘Oh What A Lovely Day’  If the keyboards of classic Damned ‘Strawberries’ and ‘Black Album’ era possibly Sensibles style and touch are your things then songs like this are right up your street.  Layers of vocals and keyboards with the hint of some guitars to take it home. After the Big Heads get their tune. The title track is like the band has channeled Bolans boogie and chosen the medium of Les Paul riffs to express themselves. Stripped it back with a sparse arrangement, unfussy riff-a-rama, and no big layered harmonies and it really works well even the guitar solo is minimal and that fits perfectly.

I could waffle here all day (some might say I do anyway),  that only gives them ‘Big Heads’ bigger heads but it would be a dereliction of duty if I didn’t big up the Big Heads and this most excellent LP. Rockin’, Rollin’, thoughtful, insightful, soothing, amusing to name a few of its qualities, as far as albums released this year goes this will unquestionably be up there as the best released in what is unfolding as the strangest years ever but ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ is a bonafide Banger!

If you are familiar with Duncan and his music you’re going to love it and there is so much on offer you could pick out a new favourite track each time. If you’re still reading and still curious and have no idea about Duncan Reid & The Big Heads then don’t be shy – jump in they don’t bite, my advice –  just buy it! sit in the garden open all your windows and your lockdown has just got 87% more bearable. Hell, shout over the fence to your neighborhood, “Enjoy the tunes – They’re Fuckin’ Great” then tell ’em they can pick up a copy from the link.my work here is done.

Buy ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ Here

Author: Dom Daley

 

We go a long way back with Crazy & The Brains all the way back when they were first released by Baldy Longhair Records and from that debut release they’ve always hit the spot with their out of step punk rock with a twist of Garage and Xylophone madness and something they like to call anti-folk (I dunno either) anyway, They’re back in the house with a raging barnstorm of a new record and always offering value for money with their records this one is full to bursting.  They’ve never strayed far from the blueprint of what made them great and once ‘Over The Edge’ hits the speakers you know what you’re in for.  Its vibrant, rapid, maybe slightly off the wall but it’s a right powerhouse of an opener. Its the second track that intrigued me more from the thumping bass line raging throughout or those chanted vocals this tune is on fire, I Mean FIRE! ‘Live Fast Burn Cash’ is roided up from the grunt on the guitars to the pounding on that Xylophone – Top tune.

It isn’t all bash n pop as ‘Brown Rice’ kicks back and to be fair like its predecessor ‘Out In The Weedz’ this has been enhanced by Pete Steinkopf of Bouncing Souls who once again recorded the record in Asbury Park, NJ. I think on the evidence before me the songs are really strong on this release and songs like ‘Not Today’ should be huge these cats should be heading towards the top of festivals like punk rock bowling they’ve got the chops and prove it year on year.

The Ramones influenced ‘I Don’t Deliver Pizza Anymore’ is a blindingly good example of how good this band can be and it features cello from Jen Fantaccione, who also plays with The Front Bottoms (Great name) from the opener to the skank of ‘Born Free’ the Brains trust hit the spot again and really do deliver.  If you’ve never heard of them nows your chance to jump on board and what a back catalogue to discover.  It’s not like you’ve got anything else to do at the moment and discovering great bands who cut great records is an awesome way to pass the time whilst on lockdown and no better place to start than with the real Jersey boys.  Crazy And The Brains.  Get on it!

Bandcamp

Facebook

Author: Dom Daley

I’ve always enjoyed Faz Waltz, but considered them the kid brothers to Giuda’s bang-on blend of glam riffs and muscular tunes. But, hey, it’s been a weird couple of years. While Giuda remain kings of the live stage, their last album was a tad patchy. I enjoyed some of the 80s flavoured songs, but it didn’t gel. This was the ideal time for Faz, Diego and Marco to show us what they’ve got.

 

While the sun is shining, no one feels too groovy about it, but this is going to brighten your day. Faz Waltz have brought their A game. You may have heard ‘Grown Up Guy’ and ‘Rebel Kicks’ already. The latter pounds the piano like Elton in ’74, and is almost as entertaining. Some bands don’t want to be image conscious, which I find puzzling, but the majority of songs here do the talking without the glam threads.

 

There’s no shortage of addictive riffs. ‘Got Me Goin’ tips a nod at an up tempo ‘Cmon Feel The Noize’, while ‘Broken Teeth’ has the edge of Mott’s ‘One Of The Boys’, before the Slade drumbeat drops in. ‘Rock N Roll Is Tough’ and ‘Born In The Wrong Time’ are very similar straight ahead rockers, one too many, perhaps. But, I imagine it’s perfect for a long drive with the windows down.

 

The two slower songs are amongst the highlights. ‘Do You Remember?’ namechecks T Rex, with appropriate backing vocals and a lilting piano somewhere between Bolan and Slade. ‘Heroes And Ghosts’ opts for the acoustic approach, and is a short, tender song.

 

My favourites so far are ‘Fighting On The Dancefloor’, which sounds like the Rubettes after one Watney’s Red Barrel too many, and ‘Is It Love?’, which ends the album on a Glitter Band beat and cracking melody.

 

Available on pink, white or black vinyl from the band’s Facebook page. No CD, as yet. Once we can actually get outside, it could be the soundtrack to the summer.

Facebook

Buy ‘Rebel Kicks’ Here

Author: Martin Chamorette

I first caught Brassick at the famous Slugfest, Can’t even remember what one as the years blur into one but they always stood out as a passionate bunch of punk rockers who were committed and 100% lifers to the cause and always gave nothing less than that when performing. In Nicola, they have a whirlwind and compelling frontperson leading from the front and never taking a step back. Their live shows often fly by in a blur of energy and noise and as uncompromising as it can often get but on record you do get to see behind that brutal live energy.

This is the second album from the Brum noisebringers but there is more to them than just kicking up a full-bodied volume assault that’s evident on ‘They Said’ that whilst does engage in power it does hold back and you get some pretty nifty Oi! bv’s. On the third track, they tentatively put one foot in the metallic riff-a-rama with a beast of a tune ‘It Could Have Been Any Of Us’.  If this doesn’t get the blood pumping round you then I’d be worried but they aren’t singing about dungeons and dragons or headbanging in unison they have lyrics that tackle real subject matters ones that matter to our lives every day  Brassick are deadly serious when it comes to being anti fascist, anti-capitalist and pro-equality and that’s the mantra of the lyrics. They’ve been a going concern on the circuit for the last eight years and they’ve grown as they’ve got more confident and on this evidence can easily stand toe to toe with their peers such as GBH whos Jock funnily enough guests on this very record.   There is some fine musicianship going on here and whilst it took an age to release (their words) the light at the end of the tunnel will be some fine recognition as people get to hear this album.

‘Half Life’ is hardcore but adding different textures to the lead vocals works well as does easing back to unveil a really good tune. But don’t worry they’ve not gone soft as ‘Nobody’ leaves you in any doubt which side of the fence these cats are on.  I love the breakdown as well.  There are fourteen tracks on offer here and I’m glad it has seen the light of day and what a better way to spend a lockdown than with some Brassick.  VFM, bang for your buck call it what you like I call it a fuckin’ banger so don’t delay kids get on it and turn it up! ‘Stagnate’ flys by in a blur of energy tighter than a gnats chuff but there is a lot going on over the fourteen tracks and ‘Pull Me Up’ works really well with a great chorus much like the crisp riff on ‘No Longer’. The world needs bands like Brassick and their ‘2.0’.  Enough waffle from me I’m going back in for some more.  Buy It!

 

Facebook

TNS Records

Author: Dom Daley

 

By 1980 the UK’s finest purveyors of ‘erbert rock Sham 69 were all but a spent force. Singer Jimmy Pursey having long since become disillusioned with Sham chose the start of a new decade and the release of the band’s fourth album (‘The Game’) as a platform from which to announce his intentions to pursue a solo career (by way of a previously failed attempt to team up with Steve Jones and Paul Cook as Sham Pistols in 1979). Thus, leaving the remaining Sham members Dave Parsons (guitar), Dave Tregunna (bass) and (drummer) Rick (Goldstein) Rock singer-less and wondering what the hell to do next.

Quickly hooking up with (ex-The Dead Boys) frontman Stiv Bators (I’ll not share the story here of how this came about as the excellent Dave Parsons penned sleeve notes included in this reissue pick up on the finer detail) The Wanderers were soon born and signing to (Sham’s old label) Polydor they were dispatched to write and record what would become their one and only album ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’.

Having long since been out of print on any format (copies of the original LP and the reissue CD are currently going for around £40 online) and as such deemed very much a “collector’s item” amongst fans ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ is thankfully now being given a long overdue reissue on vinyl (pressed up on a variety of random colours) by US label Gutterwail Records. I myself finally picked up a CD copy (released via Captain Oi! here in the UK) over a decade ago at Rebellion Festival for the princely sum of £5 and it’s still very much one of those go to albums in my collection, when someone asks that well-worn conundrum of “what band do you think should have been huge but never actually made it?”

Expanded here to fourteen tracks and finally including the (rumoured to be) lost track ‘They Made Me A Criminal’ which bizarrely had its lyrics printed on the original Polydor LP sleeve but was never included in the final track listing, this reissue offers up the chance for a whole new generation of fans to experience perhaps the definitive version of this much overlooked “cult classic”.

Sounding not unlike a poppier version of the band Bators and Tregunna would go on to form just a few years later it’s the Mick Glossop production on ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ that immediately has me wondering if had been building himself up for the bass and drums onslaught he would bestow on Waysted’s classic ‘Vices’ album just a few years later,  as here it’s the keyboards and trebly edge on cuts like ‘It’s All The Same’ and the parp-tastic ‘A Little Bit Frightening’ that tend to catch the ear.

In fairness (keyboards aside) the same production does give the album a kind of “timeless” charm and cuts like the Sham Boys crescendo of opener ‘No Dreams’, the glorious two minute pogo-pop overload of ‘Beyond The Law’ plus the superb proto Lords punks of ‘Ready To Snap’ all have me wondering what it would have been like to have seen The Wanderers live with the energy levels cranked to the max. Likewise the likes of ‘Sold Your Soul For Fame’, ‘It’s All The Same’ and  the aforementioned (faithfully restored from cassette) ‘They Made Me A Criminal’ add a depth and maturity to the songwriting that belies the band’s fledgling tenure.

I’m not entirely sure where the source of this reissue was taken from but my promo MP3s feature a couple of light pops and crackles – something that the Captain Oi! CD never had – and this makes me think it must have been taken from the original vinyl or perhaps the promo itself is a rip from a re-pressed LP? Either way, ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ is an excellent album, and is most certainly one every self-respecting fan of Sham 69 and The Lords Of The New Church should have in their collection.

Buy the record: Here (USA)

Buy the record: Here (Europe)

Author: Johnny Hayward